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SONICS WARY OF DEMONS AND WARRIORS

Bristol Sonics’ two adult sides are looking to back to winning ways this Saturday, following the disappointment of losing close matches to top-of-the-table rivals a fortnight ago.

Sonics’ first team, who surrendered their unbeaten record in Conference League South two weeks ago after slipping to a 36-30 loss to title favourites Sheffield-Hallam Eages, travel to Northampton Demons with a point to prove.

 

The last time the Sonics visited Northampton in 2011 they routed the home side by 60 points, but the scoreline was much tighter when the two sides clashed in Bristol earlier in the season. The Demons recently notched up their first (and so far only) win of the year, and will be looking to celebrate their debut at new home ground Durston Road by picking up another victory.

 

The Sonics have a good record over the Demons, having beaten them on three of the four occasions they’ve met, but skipper Dom Swann is under no illusions about the task that faces Bristol on Saturday.

 

He said: “Northampton are a big, physical, well organised team who try and get under the opposition’s skin and force them to lose their composure. We know that they will try and disrupt our natural game and wind us up. We just have to do the basics and play to our game plan. If we do that, we stand a very good chance of getting back to winning ways. If we don’t, it could be a difficult aftermoon.”

 

The Sonics are boosted by the return of long-serving prop forward Gary Carpenter, following a season-long spell in rugby union with Bridgend. Tough second-rower Matt Douglas is set to make his first appearance of the season from the bench, while Dan Evans returns to fullback after missing the Sheffield-Hallam game. Hard-running second-rower Nico Flanaghan is also in line to return, while Joel James – brother of Wales international Jordan James – gets another chance to impress at scrum half.

 

Sonics’ second team, meanwhile, will be looking to bounce back from their loss to West of England League champions Oxford Cavaliers when they face local rivals Gloucestershire Warriors at Dings Crusaders RFC, Lockleaze (kick-off 3.30pm, free entry).

 

It took the Sonics nearly five years to pick up their first win over the Warriors, but since then they have largely held the upper hand in contests between the sides. However, their West of England League record against the Gloucester-based side is mixed, and they will have to be at their best to win on Saturday.

 

Sonics’ seconds could come up against hooker Matt Williams, who appeared for the Sonics’ first team earlier this season but has since decided to return to his local club.

 

Sonics’ player/coach Arran Simm is expected to name a strong side to face the Warriors.

 

He said: “We all get on very well with the players and staff at the Warriors, but we always want to win. It’s our oldest and fiercest local derby. They’ve been in good form of late so we’ll have to play well, especially in defence, to stand a chance. The team we have out will be a blend of youth and experience, with familiar faces and newcomers both featuring. It should be a good game.”

 

Bristol Sonics first team squad to face Northampton Demons: Dan Evans, James Raymond, Mike Gaston, Marcus Brooker, Andre Samura, Dom Swann (captain), Joel James, Dan Brooker, Rort Sharratt, Gary Carpenter, Jake Robertson, Nico Flanaghan, Rob Verber, Matt Douglas, Sam Blaney, Jack Spooner, Jack Gibson, Dean Brooker, Wes Rodgers.

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JUNIORS IMPRESS AT TASTER SESSION

Junior players in Bristol got a taste of what’s to come over the summer with a Sonics Rugby League ‘Taster’ session for Under 14’s and Under 16’s on Sunday.

35 players were put through their paces by coaches Dan Brooker, Tristan Moore, Ian ‘Muddy’ Waters and Wijnand ‘Dutchy’ Wormhoudt at Dings Crusaders RFC. The session covered some of the basic skills of rugby league and finished with some game play.

Junior Head Coach Dan Brooker was impressed with both the turnout and the effort put in by the players:  “It was great to see some new players joining those that were involved last year. The quality was good at both age groups and I’m sure we’re in for a successful and enjoyable season.”

U14 and U16 training sessions will continue from Sunday 2nd June (no session next week due to the bank holiday) and will run throughout the summer. A match programme is being developed with other teams from the South West and South Wales and will be announced shortly.

New players are welcome at any time and should turn-up at Dings for a 10:30 start on Sundays. For further information please contact juniors@bristolsonics.com.

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EAGLES EDGE OUT SONICS

Bristol Sonics tasted defeat for the first time this season on Saturday, when they lost a nail-biting encounter with Conference League South title favourites Sheffield Hallam Eagles 36-30 at Landseer Avenue.

Bristol were left rueing the cost of injuries which left them battling to stay in the game in the second half. The Sonics lost a number of players to injury during the course of the game, and had to dig deep to stay with a Hallam side full of Academy players from Championship title-holders Sheffield Eagles.

It was a performance that earned praise from Sonics Director of Rugby Karl Fearnley, who was impressed by his players battling qualities. He said: “Sheffield are a top side, so to push them close with all the injuries we picked up shows how much desire there is in this squad. There were some battered and bruised bodies out there in the second half, but the lads never gave up. It fills me with a great deal of confidence for the next time we meet Sheffield in July.”

The Sonics, who beat the Eagles in Sheffield on the first day of the season – the only Conference League South club to do so to date – started brightly and opened up a 12-point lead in the early stages.

After the Eagles made a lightening-quick start and threatened to score on their first set of six, Bristol took command. After eight minutes, a dropped high kick deep in Sheffield territory gave the Sonics a chance to attack. A terrific one-handed offload from loose forward Rob Verber found skipper Dom Swann, who released Mike Gaston. The tall centre showed great footwork to cut back inside and cross the whitewash, to rapturous applause from the Sonics’ biggest crowd of the season. Dom Swann calmly added the extras.

On 13 minutes the Sonics extended their lead. This time Swann was the provider, running left and flicking a perfect reverse pass back inside to create the space for Johan Schoeman to saunter through to the tryline unopposed. Swann again converted.

Sheffield began to get more of the ball and were soon pushing the home side back through hard running from their talented forwards and quick, expansive wide play. They got their reward on 22 minutes, when prop forward Lee Sanders stretched out to put the ball down over the line, Tom Holt converting.

Three minutes later, Sheffield were level. When Sonics second-rower Josh Sampson fumbled a low ‘grubber’ kick from scrum half Shaun Roberts behind his own line, Tom Holt was on hand to touch down. He converted his own try to tie the scores at 12-all.

With half time approaching, Sonics winger James Raymond was helped from the field with concussion following a fair but brutal tackle from a Sheffield forward. With no backs on the interchange bench, Bristol were forced to hastily reorganize.

It didn’t make much difference to begin with, as the Sonics hit the front on 39 minutes when centre Marcus Brooker forced his way over from close range, Swann converting. But a minute later, Raymond’s absence was felt as Sheffield scored down his wing. It was his opposite number Donald Kudangirana who touched down, though Bristol were furious that referee Ian Curzon had missed centre Tom Ashton taking out two covering defenders in the build-up. Holt converted to level the scores at 18-all at half time.

Early in the second period, Sheffield took control. Five minutes into the second half, they took the lead for the first time when Kudangirana finished off a quick right-to-left hands move, Holt converting. Then, on 55 minutes, prop forward Sam Williamson broke free of some weak attempted tackles on half way and sprinted to the try line. Instead of scoring himself, he waited for Kudangirana to catch up, slipped him the pass and watched as the winger celebrated his hat-trick.

It looked as if Bristol would crumble. Now without stand-off Swann, who was forced off with a hamstring injury, and with replacement Marcus Brown also limping, it seemed that the Sonics would run out of fit bodies against a team in scintillating form. With Sheffield making easy yards with the ball, and successfully slowing down Bristol in defence, most thought it would be one-way traffic from then on in.

Bristol are made of sterner stuff these days, and showed great character to edge their way back into the game. On the back of a lot of possession, Bristol reduced the arrears to six points on 75 minutes when impressive prop forward Dan Brooker, playing out of position as a play-maker, powered his way to the line. He converted his own try to make it 24-30.

From the re-start Bristol attempted to attack down the left, but Josh Sampson lost the ball. 30 seconds later Hallam made the game safe when substitute forward Alex Palmer charged through some tired tackles on halfway and sprinted 50 metres to touch down.

There was still time for a final twist, as Bristol went down the other end and scored through the tireless Jake Robertson, Brooker again converting, but it came too late to change the outcome of the game. As Brooker’s conversion sailed through the posts, Curzon blew for full time.

The loss means that the Sonics drop to second in the table, behind Sheffield Hallam on points difference. The two sides both have 10 points, four points more than third-placed Nottingham Outlaws.

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SONICS SET FOR SHEFFIELD SHOWDOWN

Bristol Sonics’ unbeaten record will face its sternest test of the season on Saturday, when form team Sheffield Hallam Eagles make the long trip Dings Crusaders’ Landseer Avenue ground in Lockleaze.

 

With the Sonics usual home ground Clifton RFC unavailable for the next four weeks due to urgent pitch repairs, Saturday’s crunch game will be played at Landseer Avenue in Lockleaze, home of rugby union National League 2 side Dings Crusaders.

 

The Sonics will be based at Landseer Avenue until the end of June. That means all first and second team games, and under-14 and under-16 coaching sessions, which begin this Sunday (19th May, 10.30am), will take place at Dings’ famous home ground.

 

Saturday’s game is undoubtedly the most important game of the season so far for both sides. The Sonics won a high scoring nail-biter when the two sides clashed on the opening day of the season, but since then the Eagles have swept aside all-comers with ease.

 

The Sonics have yet to taste defeat this season, having won all five of their Conference League South matches. While there have been some comfortable victorties, including last weekend’s 40-6 away win at St Albans, the Sonics have yet to hit top form.

 

With Sheffield Hallam able to call on Academy players from professional side Sheffield Eagles, the 2012 Kingstone Press Championship winners, Sonics’ Director of Rugby Karl Fearnley knows his side face a tough task on Saturday.

 

Fearnley said: “If we’re not at the top of our game on Saturday, the Eagles will rip us apart. They’re a fantastic side, and can call on some extremely talented young players, some who have huge futures in professional Rugby League. The key battle will be in the forwards. If we can slow them down and win that battle, we’ll have a great chance of winning. It should be a cracking game.”

 

Fearnley is sweating on the fitness of influential captain Dom Swann, who inspired his team to victory last weekend. The veteran stand-off will have a fitness test before the game. The Sonics will also be without hookers Harry Marson, who impressed last weekend, and Matt Williams, who has chosen to step down to Tier 4 and play with his local side, Gloucestershire Warriors.

 

Sonics second team will be looking to build on their good start to the West of England League season when they travel to Oxford Cavaliers on Saturday.

 

Last weekend the Sonics’ Seconds opened their account with a hard-fought 26-20 win over bitter local rivals Swindon St George.

 

Bristol Sonics face Sheffield Hallam Eagles at Dings Crusaders RFC, Lockleaze, on Saturday 18 May, kick-off 2.30pm.

 

 

 

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DOUBLE DELIGHT FOR SONICS

Bristol Sonics are celebrating a “Super Saturday” after seeing both adult open-age teams notch up valuable wins.

The first team, previously unbeaten in Conference League South, cemented their position at the top of the table after winning away at St Albans 40-6. Bristol Sonics A, the club’s second team, made a great start to the West of England League season, grinding out a tough 26-20 victory over Swindon St George at Avonmouth Old Boys RFC.

ST ALBANS CENTURIONS 6
T: Day. G: Waters
BRISTOL SONICS 40
T: Dan Evans 2, Harry Marson, Dom Swann, James Gross, James Raymond, Mike Gaston 2. G: Dom Swann 4 (from 8)

 

Early tries from Dan Evans, Harry Marson and skipper Dom Swann set the Sonics first team on the way to a convincing win at struggling St Albans. The home side briefly rallied to get on the scoresheet in the 32nd minute, but further tries from James Gross and James Raymond helped the Sonics to a comfortable 28-6 half time lead.

In a tigher second half, Bristol soaked up pressure from the home side before finally putting the game to bed with a trio of tries in the middle of the half. Centre Mike Gaston grabbed a brace, with full back Dan Evans collecting his second of the match with 15 minutes remaining.
The win means Bristol remain top of Conference League South, having won each of their five games this season. They lead Sheffield-Hallam Eagles by two points, who visit Clifton RFC next Saturday to take on the Sonics.

 

BRISTOL SONICS ‘A’ 26
T: Craig Burgess, Johan Schoeman, Jack Gibson, Will Tobin 2 G: James Bennett 3 (from 5)
SWINDON ST GEORGE 20
T: Milo Hartley, Richard White, James Slater, Chris Kent. G: James Slater 2 (from 4)

 

Two second half tries from Man Of The Match Will Tobin helped Bristol Sonics A squeeze past Swindon St George at Barrack’s Lane.

Tobin’s second score, 14 minutes from time, was enough to secure the points for the home side, despite several late chances for the visitors.

Bristol began the game well, and were 6-0 up within 7 minutes thanks to Craig Burgess’s short-range try, converted by James Bennett.

Swindon hit back well and on the back of a series of penalties for offside against lazy Bristol defenders created some good chances. Eventually the pressure told, with Milo Hartley forcing his way over on 21 minutes after taking a quick tap penalty. James Slater couldn’t convert.

Things got better for the visitors four minutes later, when James Slater crossed the whitewash to put them into the lead.

On 32 minutes Bristol regained the advantage when Johan Schoeman dived over after collecting a brilliant inside ball from James Pritchard, only to see their lead disappear in less than a minute following a close range try, again from a quick tap penalty, from prop forward Richard White.

Yet by the end of an eventful and spicy first half, Bristol were back ahead. On the stroke of half time Jack Gibson crashed over after collecting a neat offload from Johan Schoeman. James Bennett’s conversion made it 16-14 at the break.

Bristol extended their lead early in the second period, when a Lewis Beer kick caught in the wind, bounced freakishly and was collected by Will Tobin, who sprinted away to touch down from 15 metres out. Bennett’s conversion made it 22-14 to the home side.

Swindon rallied and within 8 minutes were back within two points thanks to a fine try out wide by Chris Kent, brilliantly converted by James Slater.

With defence dominating, it was down to Tobin to produce a final moment of magic to restore Bristol’s six-point advantage. He raced away to score from half way. Bennett couldn’t convert, but the Sonics held out for a morale-boosting victory.

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SONICS SECONDS SWING INTO ACTION

Bristol Sonics’ second team are set to take centre stage this Saturday (11 May), as they open their West of England League campaign against fierce local rivals Swindon St George at Avonmouth Old Boys RFC, Shirehampton (K.O 2.30pm).

 

With the unbeaten first team away at St Albans Centurions (Toulmin Drive, St Albans, 2.30pm), a healthy crowd is expected at Barracks Lane for the Sonics’ second team’s first game of 2013.

 

Bristol Sonics A compete in the West of England League, alongside Gloucestershire Warriors, Cheltenham Old Patesians, Oxford Cavaliers, Somerset Vikings and Saturday’s opponents, Swindon St George.

 

With first team places at a premium following the Sonics’ partnership agreement with the University of Gloucestershire All Golds, Bristol Sonics A can call on plenty of experience as they look to get their 2013 campaign off to the best possible start.

 

Sonics’ Director of Rugby Karl Fearnley will be pulling on his boots again for a rare run out at hooker, while the squad also contains nine players with previous first team experience, and a string of debutants.

 

Fearnley, who for this week has handed over first team coaching duties to former second team player/coach Aran Simm, said: “We’ve been delighted by the number of people who have committed to the second team this year, and the willingness of first team squad members to prove their form and fitness in the seconds. I know all the players are looking forward to showing me what they can do to try and force their way into the first team as the season progresses.”

 

The pack of forwards set to take to the field at Avonmouth on Saturday includes a number of Sonics legends. Tristan Moore, Jack Gibson, Joe Singleton and Josh Sampson are all set to feature, alongside replacements Dave Leach, James Pritchard, ambitious hooker Andy Parsons and returning second-rower Dan Wegryzn.

 

Meanwhile, the Sonics’ first team continue their pursuit of Conference League South points with a trip to St Albans Centurions.

 

The Sonics’ first team have won each of their first four games this season, recording vital wins over Sheffield-Hallam Eagles, Northampton Demons, Leicester Storm and Nottingham Outlaws.

 

The ‘firsts’ are boosted by the return of hooker Harry Marson, utiity player Andre Samura, and second-rower Sam Blaney. Dan Brooker is in line to make his first appearance of the season, joining brother Marcus, who scored his first try for the All Golds against Gateshead last weekend.

 

St Albans have been in poor form in recent weeks, but Sonics’ skipper Dom Swann is expecting a very tough game. He said: “We’re expecting a very tough game from the Centurions on Saturday. They’re a great club who do things the right way, and last season we had two very tight games with them. I’d expect it to be the same this week, especially at their place. If we’re even a little bit off the pace, we’ll get beaten, and we can’t afford to slip up now.”

 

Fans wishing to keep up to date with the first team match can view live text updates on the Sonics’ Twitter account: http://twitter.com/BristolSonicsRL

 

Entrance to Bristol Sonics A v Swindon St George at Avonmouth Old Boys RFC is free. Kick-off on Saturday (11th May) is 2.30pm.

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SONICS ANNOUNCE 2013 JUNIOR PROGRAMME

In the build-up to the arrival of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup in Bristol this autumn, Bristol Sonics have announced a full summer programme of junior Rugby League in the city.

The programme features a mix of training sessions and summer camps for under 14s (12-14 years-old) and under 16s (14-16), as well as coaching in four secondary schools around Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

The programme, which is being run in association with the University of Gloucestershire All Golds and Clifton RFC, will begin in May and run until September.

The action begins on Sunday 19th May at Clifton RFC in Henbury (10.30am), with a 90-minute taster session for boys aged between 12 and 16 (Under 14s and Under 16s). The sessions, which will be run by fully qualified and CRB-checked coaches, continue weekly until July and will lead to matches against other teams in the region.

Throughout June, Sonics coaches will also conduct weekly sessions in four secondary schools in Bristol and South Gloucestershire, including John Cabot Academy, which will include coaching for Year 8 and Year 9 girls. The schools programme will culminate with a junior Rugby League festival in the first week of July.

For the first time, the Sonics will also be running a series of extended weekday ‘summer camps’ for U14 and U16 boys during the school holidays. The sessions, which take place at Clifton RFC in Henbury, begin on July 17 and continue until September 4.

Any parents or players interested in playing junior Rugby League in Bristol and South Gloucestershire this summer can find more information and contact details for coaches at www.bristolsonics.com

Q&A

Q: What ages can play junior rugby with the Sonics?

A: The Sonics are running Under 14 and Under 16 age groups. Boys can play “one year up” according to RFL rules so U14s covers anyone in school years 8 and 9, and U16’s covers school years 10 and 11. The longer–term aim is to start an U19’s team but at the moment the only option for anyone aged over 16 is to train with the senior squads.

Q: Do I need to register before coming to a training session?

A: No, a brief registration form will need to be filled in but that can be done when you attend your first training session.

Q: How much does it cost?

A: The cost is £25 for the season which covers a training t-shirt (will be given out as soon as payment received), training costs and match day costs and insurance.

Q: When will matches be held?

A: Matches will be held on Sunday mornings, typically with an 11:00 kick-off. The match schedule for both age groups is being finalised with teams from Gloucestershire, Somerset and South Wales .

Q: Where are training / matches held?

A: Clifton RFC. Directions here: http://www.bristolsonics.com/the-club/find-us/

Q: How are the Club’s coaches qualified?

A: All of the Club’s coaches are qualified through accredited RFL (Rugby Football League) coaching courses to UKCC Level 2. All coaches are also is First aid qualified, have completed the RFL’s Safeguarding and Protecting Children course and are Criminal Records bureau (CRB) checked.

 

Q: What equipment do I need to play Rugby League?

A: For matches a playing shirt will be provided by the club but players should bring suitable rugby shorts and socks. For training children will be expected to wear their own suitable kit, although will be provided with a training shirt.

Rugby / football boots and gum shields should be brought to training and matches. Players can wear padded tops and scrum caps although this is down to personal choice.

 

Q: Do I need to have played Rugby League before?

A: No, full training will be provided.

 

Q: Who can I contact to find out more information?

A: Email juniors@bristolsonics.com and your enquiry will be directed to the correct person.